By Natalie Marks, DVM
In today’s competitive veterinary industry, many different certifications can set a practice apart: Cat Friendly Practice, American Animal Hospital Association accreditation, and American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, to name just a few. Fear Free has one distinguishing benefit, however: it’s that everyone on your staff can participate and become invested. Each team member can demonstrate this initiative, implement strategies, and market why this makes your practice different with every client interaction, every day.
We have seen a significant increase in our number of positive reviews since our nine associates have become Fear Free Certified. Nearly every Yelp review mentions positive treat rewards, gentle handling, classical music, or other Fear Free strategies. This has quickly spilled over into Google Reviews, Facebook messages, and Instagram followers. Perhaps more importantly, our website traffic about the Fear Free Initiative and why it makes our client and patient experience different has skyrocketed, translating into improvements in search engine optimization and new client acquisitions.
It may seem as if a significant time commitment is needed to create a marketing plan and materials, but the Fear Free website tool box has promotional videos, Facebook wall and cover photos, press release templates, and team training tips that can be downloaded and personalized for your practice immediately! Everything you need is ready for you. If your practice does not have a staff member in management designated to handle social media and marketing, look deeper into your current roster of employees to find someone with a passion for communicating the Fear Free message. Engage your staff in documenting Fear Free experiences with photos and videos of patients and clients. That can do more than anything else to promote Fear Free care, educate the public, and even attract new clients.
Richard Branson once said, “To succeed in business you need to be original, but you also need to understand what your customers want.” I firmly believe this. As I travel across the country and speak to different associates and owners, the acceptance and buy-in of clients to the Fear Free experience is overwhelming. Become certified, make it your own, and market this initiative both online and in your practice. The return on investment will be almost immediate, and your patients, clients and staff will be happier for it.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.